August 7, 2019

Whitehouse Calls for Guaranteed 3% Annual Social Security COLA

Guaranteed 3% COLA For Seniors Act would protect purchasing power of Social Security benefits

Johnston, RI – Speaking to seniors gathered at the Johnston Senior Center, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today called on Congress to pass legislation that would protect the purchasing power of Social Security benefits.  Whitehouse has introduced the Guaranteed 3% COLA For Seniors Act to guarantee every senior a reasonable Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) with an annual floor of no less than 3 percent. 

“Seniors paid into Social Security over decades of hard work with the expectation that they would be able to rely on those benefits to help pay for basic necessities like food, housing, and medical care in retirement,” said Whitehouse.  “The federal government needs to provide an annual cost of living adjustment that actually keeps up with rising costs and protects the purchasing power of Social Security benefits.”

The bill would also update the formula that the government uses to determine seniors’ yearly COLA to one that better reflects the costs seniors typically face.  Currently, annual Social Security COLA increases are tied to a measure of inflation called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).  This index doesn’t adequately measure the expenses incurred by older Americans, such as doctor visits and medication costs.  The Guaranteed 3% COLA For Seniors Act would direct the Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which would specifically track seniors’ expenses and use that data to determine COLA adjustments.

“I am delighted that Senator Whitehouse has proposed this very important piece of legislation,” said Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, who attended today’s event.  “We all know that everything goes up, heat, utilities, food, etc., while Social Security benefits stay flat or go up only minimally, and then Medicare takes it away!” 

Whitehouse and Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced the bicameral Guaranteed 3% COLA For Seniors Act in June.



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